Image of a woman holding her cheek and gritting her teeth in pain

Wisdom Tooth Pain - 'Pericoronitis'

When to go to A+E

  • If you have a swelling in or around your mouth/neck and it is making it difficult for you to breathe, speak or swallow.

When to see an emergency dentist

  • If you have difficulties opening your mouth.
  • If you have swelling, redness and soreness of the gum around your wisdom tooth.
  • If you are unable to stop the pain or reduce the swelling with a warm salty mouthwash and thorough brushing of the area.
  • If you are having to take painkillers to manage the pain.
  • If you are having recurring pain with your wisdom teeth.
  • If you have wisdom tooth pain with a high temperature.

What to do if you have wisdom tooth pain

  • Take over the counter painkillers (Ibuprofen/Paracetamol). Make sure you aren't allergic and that they don't interact with any other medication you are taking. Stick to the recommended dosages and do not give Aspirin to children under the age of 16.
  • Brush and floss around your wisdom teeth in case food has been trapped between your teeth.
  • Swirl with a warm salty mouth rinse. Place a teaspoon of salt in a glass of hot water and wait for it to be cool enough to swirl. Do this several times a day.

Finally, book an appointment with an emergency dentist near you.


Pericoronitis – This is the most common cause of pain in and around your wisdom teeth. It is common for wisdom teeth not to have enough room to break through the gum fully. This allows food and bacteria to accumulate around the gum which leads to inflammation and possible infection.

There are other problems that can occur with wisdom teeth, much like all teeth, including tooth decay, gum disease and dental abscesses. Less commonly wisdom teeth can develop cysts.

Emergency Treatment

Pericoronitis – The dentist will assess you before confirming a diagnosis of pericoronitis. Depending on the severity, the dentist may decide to only clean around the area, otherwise they will prescribe a course of antibiotics to remove any infection. In the UK we have a set of guidelines that dentists try to adhere to when considering wisdom tooth extraction. It is often at the discretion of the dentist as to whether they think it is suitable to extract the wisdom tooth.


The best ways to prevent wisdom tooth problems include:

  • If you feel some discomfort around your wisdom tooth, try and clean it thoroughly and start regularly rinsing with a warm salty mouthwash.

  • Visit your dentist regularly at a time period specified by your dentist.

  • Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes with an appropriate fluoride toothpaste for your age.

  • Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes daily, and use a daily non-alcohol based fluoride mouthwash.

  • Reduce the amount and the frequency of sugar in your diet.

  • Don't smoke and limit your alcohol consumption to the recommended amounts.